Pinehurst doctor focus of DEA, police investigation

Pinehurst doctor focus of DEA, police investigation

The Pinehurst Police Department reports a local doctor’s office was the target of an in-depth investigation by the department and the DEA after numerous complaints were received by law enforcement officers from citizens complaining they suspected the doctor of abusing his position by prescribing large amounts of drugs to patients from Texas and Louisiana.

Pinehurst Police Chief Fred R. Hanauer III reported that officers executed the search warrant at the office of Dr. Philip Cantu, located at 220 Strickland Dr. in Pinehurst at approximately 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, July 24 by Pinehurst officers and DEA agents, assisted by the Precinct 2 Constable's office, Bridge City and Orange Police, Orange County Sheriff's Office and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office. Although the office was not open for business and the front door was locked, Dr. Cantu's staff, who were at the office cooperated fully with police efforts.

According to Chief Hanauer, his department began receiving complaints more than three years ago from citizens, ex-employees and area pharmacies as to Dr. Cantu’s medical practices. A joint investigation with Pinehurst Police and the DEA was initiated which revealed an unusually large amount of patients were seen by Dr. Cantu from this area, as well as the state of Louisiana.

During the search of the accused doctor’s office, DEA agents seized several boxes of evidence and interviewed the employees, Pinehurst PD reports. Police officers identified and interviewed several patients in the parking lot who, they say, did not seem to be deterred by the presence of police as they arrived in a steady stream to see the doctor. Incidentally, police report, Dr. Cantu is currently incarcerated in the Orange County Jail on an unrelated felony assault arrest that occurred in a neighboring jurisdiction on Wednesday, July 23. Judge David Peck set bond at $10,000.

“Prescription drug abuse is a major problem and we take it very seriously,” Chief Hanauer said. “We will do our part to protect our citizens from this type of practice as well as the residual crimes that always seem to be present such as possession of non-prescription drugs, property crimes, crimes against persons and more recently, reports of loitering and prostitution in the parking lot of the doctor's office. It is not known at this time what, if any, charges will be filed as a result of the seizures. Records will be analyzed by experts to determine if violations have occurred.”

Anyone with information about this operation or any other crimes within the City of Pinehurst are encourage to report them to the Pinehurst Police Department at 409-886-2221 or in person at 2493 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.